[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Supervisors of the Township of Halfmoon 10-14-2004 by Ord. No. 2004-11. Amendments noted where applicable.]
Vehicles and traffic — See Ch. 240.
Any vehicle parked on any of the highways, public rights-of-way or other public property in the Township, which is parked in violation of any provision of the law or of any ordinance of the Township, or which has been immobilized in excess of 24 hours in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, may be removed under the provisions of this chapter. The Township Manager, Director of the Department of Public Works, Township Engineer, Township Zoning Officer or the designated agent by the Township or any sworn officer of the Pennsylvania State Police or as designated by statute is authorized to make the decision whether or not to remove any vehicle. Removal shall be done only by employees of the municipality or by a licensed towing company.
Any vehicle removed shall be impounded in a storage facility, as herein defined, or on property controlled by the Township and designed for vehicle impoundment by the Township.
Private property. Any motor vehicle left unattended on private property within the Township may be removed under the provisions of this chapter. The decision to remove any such motor vehicle shall be made by either the property owner or upon written authorization as specified in this chapter. Removal of such vehicle may be done only by towing services licensed by the Township as designated in this chapter. Any motor vehicle removed by authority of this chapter shall be impounded in a storage facility, as herein defined.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The physical place/establishment where employees report to work, equipment is stored and dispatched to and from, all company dealings take place, recordkeeping and daily activity, etc., is performed. For purposes of this chapter, a business shall have employees at the business address at a minimum of normal business hours, which is defined as 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, exclusive of national holidays.
- A person having permission from the vehicle owner to exercise care and/or control over a vehicle.
- Gross vehicle weight.
- An individual, firm, partnership, association, employee, corporation, company, or organization of any kind.
- PRIVATE PARKING LOT
- A nonmunicipal parking lot open to the public or used for parking without charge, or a nonmunicipal parking lot used for parking with charge.
- PRIVATE PROPERTY
- Real property owned by an individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company or organization, including private parking lots as defined in the Vehicle Code.
- PROPERTY OWNER
- An individual, firm, partnership, association, corporation, company, organization, or designee representing the owner of the property from which the vehicle is being towed.
- STORAGE FACILITY
- A secured area for the storage of towed vehicles.
- TIMELY RESPONSE
- Generally means 30 minutes or less from the time the towing company is requested until the wrecker arrives at the scene. At times there may be circumstances beyond a tower's control that make it impossible for a towing company to arrive within 30 minutes.
- TOWING ROTATION LIST
- The list maintained of all towing companies licensed by the Township.
- TOWING COMPANY
- Any business engaged in the towing, removing, or storing of motor vehicles at the request of the municipality or private property owners. This includes the towing company owner and its employees and agents.
- TOWING COMPANY OWNER
- Any person(s) having financial interest in a licensed towing company. This does not include persons who are solely employed by the towing company.
- When the cable that is attached to a motorized pulley system is unwound and attached to a vehicle to then place that vehicle in such a position that the vehicle may either be driven away or conventionally hooked to a wrecker.
- A vehicle designed and used for removing and transporting motor vehicles. This term shall also include a rollback truck, tow truck, or other vehicles commonly used to perform towing services.
There are two separate licenses available, a private towing license and a public towing license:
The public towing license is required for any towing company engaged in the business of towing vehicles at the request of the Township from highways, public rights-of-way or other public property in the Township. The towing company shall be licensed annually in accordance with the provisions of this section.
The private towing license is required for any towing company engaged in the business of towing vehicles from private property in the Township. The towing company shall be licensed annually in accordance with the provisions of this section.
Application for license. Applications for license shall be submitted to the Manager upon forms prepared and made available by the Township. The application form(s) shall be properly completed, signed and accompanied by the application and license fee. The Township may review and inspect the required storage facility and towing equipment and all applications for compliance with the terms of this chapter and other applicable regulations.
Issuance of license(s). A private and/or public towing license shall be issued only to towing companies that comply with the provisions of this chapter.
License fee. The license fee under this chapter for the original application shall be $75 for the public towing license and $85 for the private towing license. These are nonrefundable application fees (one-time fee).
Multiple licenses. The application fee for a second license for any towing company currently licensed by the Township at the time of application shall be $15 (either public or private).
License renewal. All licenses, except those terminated for just cause as provided herein, are subject to an annual renewal fee of $35 for a single license and $50 for both a public and private license. This renewal fee shall be paid within the first quarter of each calendar year.
Towing companies to be licensed under this chapter to tow vehicles at the request of the Township or private landowners shall maintain the following minimum requirements:
Wreckers and general equipment.
Business and equipment shall be located within Halfmoon, Ferguson, Patton, College or Harris Townships or State College Borough.
All wreckers shall be clearly marked with the towing company's name and telephone number marked on each side of the vehicle.
Wreckers shall be maintained in safe mechanical condition and must display current state inspection and registration.
Towing equipment required. One wrecker with, at a minimum, the following equipment or specifications:
Ten-thousand-pound or greater GVW chassis truck;
Rear wheel lift with either an integrated or separate boom;
Eight-thousand-pound winching capability;
One or two rotating amber overhead lights visible from 360°;
Cleanup equipment and oil dry or similar approved material;
The ability to communicate immediately with the towing company's dispatcher; and
Any other equipment to properly tow vehicles.
One roll back vehicle (required for public property towing license.)
Wrecker(s) and required towing equipment shall be owned or leased by the towing company.
A wrecker used by a licensed towing company shall not be used or operated by any other towing company under this chapter unless authorized to do so by the Township.
Storage facilities. All storage facilities used for impoundment of vehicles towed at the request of the Township/private property owner shall be located within the Townships of Halfmoon, Ferguson, Patton, College, Harris or State College Borough.
The storage facility shall be owned or leased by the towing company owner.
The storage facility shall comply with zoning regulations applicable in the jurisdiction where the facility is located.
The storage facility shall be, at a minimum, 10,000 square feet, and enclosed by a secured fence or building. When enclosed by a fence, the fence shall be a minimum of six feet in height and made of a sturdy material such as a chain link, wooden slats, or other approved material. All gates shall be secured with locks or other security mechanisms to reasonably prevent entry by unauthorized persons.
The lot shall be reasonably well lit to provide ability for towers/customers to inspect, release, pick up vehicles, and to provide a safer environment during hours of darkness.
The towing company owner is responsible for the security of the stored vehicles.
The towing company owner shall establish a system convenient to the vehicle owner to provide for release of towed vehicles from the storage facility 24 hours a day, daily.
Release of towed vehicles under the private towing license shall be completed within a two-and-one-half-hour time period following receipt of the request to release the towed vehicle.
Release of personal property from a towed vehicle that is not attached to the vehicle shall be made within a two-and-one-half-hour time period following receipt of the request to return the property. Except as provided in this chapter, no fee shall be charged for the return of personal property from a towed vehicle that is not attached to the vehicle.
Advertising. Towing companies shall be listed in the State College/Bellefonte or Warriors Mark/Port Matilda classified section of the current published telephone directory. This listing must, at minimum, include the company name, business address, and a business telephone number that is personally answered 24 hours per day.
Towing companies shall be required to carry insurance at the minimum policy limits as follows:
The Township shall be listed as an additional insured party on all policies and such policies shall contain a provision requiring notification to the Township prior to any policy revision or termination. A copy of the policy shall be provided to the Township.
Criminal record. No towing company owner/operator or agent shall have any misdemeanor and/or felony criminal convictions for criminal violations that would be inconsistent with providing professional towing service. Specifically, no towing company owner/operator or agent shall have such conviction(s) for the following violations of the Pennsylvania Crimes Code:
This section only applies to towing companies holding public towing licenses, as provided for in this chapter: The Township shall maintain the list of licensed towing companies, listed alphabetically, and requested by authorized Township employees on a rotating basis. "Rotating Basis" means the towing company on the top of the list is requested first to do the tow. Once the towing company on the top of the list is requested, that name shall be placed on the bottom of the list. Thereafter, for each subsequent request, the process shall be repeated. The towing company listed on the top shall be requested and that name then moved to the bottom.
When the towing company on the top of the list is called for a towing request and fails to answer the telephone, that company shall be moved to the bottom of the list and the next name on the list will be requested. However, if a towing company is unable to respond to the request because all towing equipment/drivers are handling other towing services, the next towing company on the list will be requested and the unavailable company will remain on the top of the list for the next request.
If a towing company on the top of the list is requested but prior to providing the towing services the request is canceled, that towing company shall be placed back on top of the towing rotation list to receive the next request.
This rotation may be waived when, in the opinion of the Township, the immediate removal of a vehicle(s) is critical to public safety.
Private property. All vehicles removed, transported or conveyed from private property by a licensed towing company shall be stored at the towing company storage facility unless otherwise authorized by the Pennsylvania State Police or the Township.
Public property. All vehicles removed, transported or conveyed at the request of the Township shall be stored at the towing company's storage facility or at property owned or controlled by the Township, or to a location specified by the vehicle owner or operator or the Pennsylvania State Police. Any vehicle remaining at the storage facility more than 90 days may be removed as permitted by applicable salvor regulations in the Vehicle Code, and with written/faxed permission from the Township if the vehicle was impounded by the Township
In the case of a Pennsylvania State Police request, the towing company requested shall respond to the tow location within a time frame recognized. There are circumstances, such as adverse road conditions, that are beyond the towing company's control that would prohibit them from arriving at the scene of the tow within a reasonable amount of time. Generally, if the towing company fails to respond within a reasonable amount of time after being requested, the next available towing company on the towing rotation may be requested. Nothing in this regulation is intended to permit or encourage the towing company to violate any provisions of the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code or to operate a vehicle in an unsafe manner but is intended to place police requested tows at the highest priority for public safety reasons.
Towing companies shall be available to tow vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In rare instances when a towing company is not available to tow vehicles for the Township, the towing company shall notify the Township of the circumstances that prohibit them from performing tows and the estimated time they will be unavailable.
All licensed towing companies shall notify the Township of any modifications or changes to their license holder or applicant information within seven days of the change.
All licensed towing companies shall be notified by the Township of any additions, deletions, modifications, or changes to this chapter within five days of the change.
Towing company owners shall comply with all local, state, and federal laws and regulations and are responsible for insuring that all employees/agents of the towing company adhere to this chapter.
The Township shall not be liable for any towing company's fees that arise for non-Township-owned vehicles unless the vehicle is towed to a Township facility at the request of the Township. All fees for towing services and storage shall be levied against the owner of the vehicle unless it is determined by the Township that the vehicle was towed in error, in which case no charges will be assessed against the owner. If the error is that of the towing company, no charges will be assessed. If the error is that of the Township, appropriate charges may be assessed against the Township.
All fees for towing services and storage shall be levied against the owner of the vehicle unless it is determined by the Township or the private property owner from which the vehicle was towed, or the towing company that the vehicle was towed in error, in which case no charge will be assessed.
Towing companies shall be responsible for the conduct of all drivers and employees. Misconduct of towing company employees may subject a towing company to the suspension of towing privileges. The driver's license of persons towing for a towing company may be subject to inspection by the Township.
The towing company shall remove accident debris as part of the towing service.
In situations involving hazardous materials which require the response by a specially trained hazardous material unit, towing services may be limited to those towing companies certified in the removal of hazardous material. Such companies may or may not be licensed under this chapter; however, those towing companies licensed by the Township and certified in the removal of hazardous material will be requested first.
In situations requiring the towing of an abandoned vehicle, as defined by the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code, only approved salvors may be used to tow such vehicles. Salvors requested may or may not be licensed under this chapter; however, those towing companies that are salvors and licensed by the Township will be requested first.
In situations requiring the towing of a truck, truck tractor, or combination having a gross weight or registered gross weight in excess of 17,000 pounds, only those towing companies equipped to tow such vehicles may be requested. Such companies may or may not be licensed under this chapter; however, those licensed towing companies equipped for such tows will be requested first.
Only in situations requiring the towing of a motor vehicle having a gross weight or registered gross weight in excess of the capability of the tower's equipment, the tower may subcontract the towing of the motor vehicle to an unlicensed towing company. The towed motor vehicle may be towed to and stored at either the towers secured lot or to the subcontractor's storage area. When a tower utilizes the services of a subcontractor as permitted under this section, it will be the tower's responsibility to assure that the subcontractor complies with all other requirements of this chapter.
Motor vehicles that are locked at the time they are to be towed and are not equipped with a lock steering mechanism shall have the front wheels placed on dollies before being towed to insure the vehicle being towed is kept in line with the towing vehicle. The exception would be those vehicles with front-wheel drive, in which case the vehicle may be towed by the front. Motor vehicles being towed must have minimum lighting, as set forth in the Vehicle Code, to provide for safe movement on the highway.
It shall be a prohibited act for any towing company to:
Tow or move a vehicle from or within public rights-of-way or public property without the consent of the owner or operator, or without authorization from the Township or the Pennsylvania State Police.
Tow or move a vehicle from or within private property without authorization from the property owner.
Tow or move a vehicle from or within private property in violation of the requirements of this chapter.
Use "Halfmoon Township" in the name of the towing company.
Charge or provide a written quote or invoice, or collect fees in excess of those specifically designated in this chapter.
Falsify any information with regard to the application.
Remove a motor vehicle from private property without using a wrecker, except in case of repossession.
Remove a motor vehicle from private property before completing every procedure required to secure the motor vehicle to the wrecker, including the attachment of any safety chains, so that the motor vehicle may be safely towed.
No towing company or employee shall respond to the scene of an accident to circumvent the towing rotation by soliciting a tow directly from an involved party to the accident.
A fee schedule establishing the maximum fees that may be assessed for towing and storage services provided at the Township’s request by licensed towing companies or performed for private property owners shall be set by resolution of the Board of Supervisors. It shall be deemed a Township request anytime a towing company is requested by the Township directly or through the Centre County Emergency Communication Center for towing services.
Within one hour from the time of removal of any vehicle by an authorized towing service, the Centre County Emergency Communications Center shall be notified, by providing the Center with a copy (or facsimile) of the written authorization and shall include the following information:
The next business day, from the time of removal of any vehicle illegally parked or immobilized, notice of the fact of the removal and impounding shall be sent, in writing, to the Township. The notice shall advise the location from where such vehicle was removed, the reason for its removal, and the location of the storage facility where the vehicle is impounded.
Every licensed towing company providing service at request of the Township shall make a written record of each vehicle towed or stored consisting of the following information:
Registration plate number and state.
Time call was received.
Spot or ticket time.
Time wrecker arrived at the scene.
Dates of accumulated unpaid parking tickets (if applicable).
Date vehicle was returned to owner/custodian.
Towing and storage charges for each towed vehicle.
No motor vehicle shall be removed from private property, except as authorized, under the authority of this chapter unless:
Written authorization for the vehicle to be removed is provided to the authorized towing company, in duplicate, signed by the owner and agent of the owner or the person having control of the property upon which the vehicle is left unattended. The authorization form shall be similar to the one hereinafter set forth and shall be completed at the time the vehicle is to be towed by the aforementioned person or persons.
No vehicle shall be towed from a private parking lot unless the lot is posted, at the time the vehicle is towed, to notify the public of any parking restrictions, and the operator of the vehicle violates those restrictions. Posting shall be in conformance to the rules and regulations set forth in Annex A, Title 67, Transportation, Part I, Department of Transportation, Subpart A, Vehicle Code Provision, Article VIII, Administration and Enforcement, Chapter 217, Posting of Private Parking Lots.
Signs as required and, in addition to the number of signs required, shall be in place and evenly spaced in parking lot based upon the number of available parking spaces as follows:
In addition to the posting of private lots as required, the Township may require additional signs be posted and/or that the posted signs be altered.
The payments of any towing and storage charges authorized by this chapter shall, unless made "under protest," be final and conclusive and shall constitute a waiver of any right to recover the fees paid.
The Township or designee may keep a record of all illegally parked and/or immobilized vehicles impounded and shall be able at all reasonable times to furnish the owners/custodians with information as to the location of the storage facility where such vehicles are impounded.
The payment of towing and storage charges authorized by this chapter shall not operate to relieve the owner or operator of any vehicle from liability for any fine or penalty for violation of any law or ordinance on account of which such vehicle was removed and impounded.
Nonmetered private lots. A motor vehicle found to be illegally parked or disabled on private property and otherwise authorized to be legally removed may not be removed from the property for 15 minutes if the discovery of the motor vehicle was made by the towing company in which case the towing company shall include the discovered time and the removal time on the notification or removal as required. If the discovery of the illegally parked or disabled motor vehicle was made by the property owner and the towing company was requested to remove the illegally parked or disabled vehicle; the motor vehicle may be removed immediately. If an illegally parked vehicle is discovered parked blocking the entrance or exit to or from private property, in a marked and signed fire lane, in a marked and signed handicapped space or wholly or partially on a lawn the vehicle may be towed immediately.
Metered private lots.
A motor vehicle found to be illegally parked or disabled at a metered parking space on private property may not be removed from the property unless the illegally parked vehicle has two or more consecutive unpaid parking tickets over the course of one or more calendar days, or two or more accumulated parking tickets in at least a twelve-hour period of time.
If a motor vehicle is towed from a metered parking space on private property, the towing company shall include the specific dates of the unpaid parking tickets on the records of vehicles towed or stored.
The Township shall notify the towing company owner within 15 days of receipt of any complaint against a towing company that will be investigated by the Township. Complaints by Township employees/agents against a towing company shall be brought to the attention of the Manager and the Chair of the Board of Supervisors within five calendar days.
Towing companies are prohibited, either directly or indirectly, from giving or furnishing a rebate or payment of money or any other valuable consideration to a property owner from whose premises the towing company has, is about to, or will remove motor vehicles. Property owners are prohibited from accepting or giving, either directly or indirectly, any rebate, payment of money, or any other valuable consideration from or to a towing company in connection with the removal of a motor vehicle from private property except for signs and notices as required.
Property owners are prohibited from having a direct or indirect monetary interest in a towing company that, for compensation, removes motor vehicles from their private property. This section is not intended to prohibit the issuance of parking tickets to illegally parked vehicles.
All charges and fees authorized by this chapter shall be reviewed by the Township after five years (but not more than seven years of the effective date of this chapter) and every three to five years thereafter. This section shall only be in effect when the Township receives a written request from a licensed towing company owner to review the charges and fees within 90 days prior to the scheduled review date. Any rate changes in response to the written request to the Township shall be made within 90 days after having received the request.
Any towing service that operates within Halfmoon Township towing vehicles from private property in accordance with the Vehicle Code and is not an authorized towing service, as defined within this chapter, shall be subject to a fine, upon conviction, of not less than $600 nor more than $1,00 for each violation.
Any towing company or its employee who violates any provision shall be issued a written warning for their first violation during any calendar year. Any subsequent violation during the same year may cause the termination of the towing company's license. The towing company is not entitled to a warning for violation of any provisions and shall have their license terminated for the subsequent violations.
The towing company shall be notified, in writing, no less than 15 calendar days prior to the termination of its license. The notice of termination shall state the reason(s) for termination and the effective date of termination. The towing company shall have 15 calendar days to appeal the termination, in writing, to the Local Authority Board of Adjudication. The Local Authority Board of Adjudication shall hold a hearing within 45 calendar days of written receipt of the towing company's request for an appeal.
Upon conviction of any provision of this chapter, in addition to the penalty listed, a towing company shall have their license revoked for a period of two years.